Verdict on Auschwitz: The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial 1963-1965
The only documentary on the Auschwitz Trial held in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, from 1963 to 1965.
In the courtroom, survivors of Auschwitz confronted perpetrators they had not seen for twenty years, many of whom had made comfortable lives for themselves in postwar West Germany. The whole world followed the dramatic proceedings, which were commented upon by such leading intellectuals as the American playwright Arthur Miller and Swiss author Max Frisch.
In preparation for five years, the first Auschwitz trial took place shortly after Eichmann was tried in Jerusalem. The court heard 360 witnesses from 19 countries (including 211 survivors and 54 members of the Auschwitz-SS) in proceedings against 21 members of the SS and 1 prisoner, accused of having taken part in the mass murder of millions of people. On August 20, 1965, after 18 months of hearings, the verdicts were pronounced in one of the most significant trials in German legal history.
This film is an unparalleled document of the trial. The court proceedings were recorded on audiotape that were to have been destroyed after the trial. Filmmakers Bickel and Wagner located the 400 hours of material in the early 1990s that had languished in obscurity for decades. They evaluated these tapes together with extensive and exclusive original film material, original photos, and current interviews with witnesses and other people involved in the trial. The immediacy of the testimonies yields a historically precise and absorbing documentary.
This 2-DVD set includes: the three-hour original version of the documentary (1993); the condensed, one-hour version (2005); and a 35 page booklet with background information on the trial and people appearing in the film.
- Introduction by Barton Byg
- Filmmakers' Biographies & Filmographies
- Eyewitness: "The Investigation," by Peter Weiss
- Critical Essay by Werner Renz, Fritz Bauer Institute
- "Bringing the Auschwitz Trial to English-Speakers," by Sigrid Bauschinger
- "430 Hours of the Trial Captured on Tape"
- Index of Persons
- Chapter Overviews